Celebrating Good Times (C’mon!) | By Ellen Johanson | Photos by Amy Pazan
Celebrate good times.
Colorful streamers descending from the ceiling and draping people below.
Tears, music, clapping and more.
These are just some the words and images that describe the Retiree Celebration, a time-honored annual conference tradition.
This year, twenty clergy from the PNW Conference retired from active ministry. As names and appointment histories were read, retirees either walked across the stage to receive certificates or shared short video reflections of their years in ministry. Some reflections inspired laughter – like when the Rev. Dr. Craig Parrish donned “colorful” clothing worn during the 1970s era of his 41 years of service. Or when the Rev. Keith Hackett shared how one of his tenants defined being a faithful Christian as supporting everything that the United Methodist Women do. There were serious moments too. A few tears were shed as people acknowledged the changes ahead and the loss of daily contact with co-workers and partners in ministry.
Just as leadership and God’s Spirit passed from the prophet Elijah to Elisha, our “Elijah” retirees passed the mantle along to our “Elisha” ordinands.
Bishop Grant Hagiya mentioned that the cumulative time of service of our retirees added up to 556 years of ministry. But in truth, ministry is more than a profession or even a lifestyle—it is a lifelong endeavor inspired by the Holy Spirit and committed to by the individual follower of Jesus Christ.
Even though the retirees are transitioning into a different stage of life, some of them will continue part-time ministry as “retired pastors” and are going on to serve new churches! Blessings to all of them as they continue their journeys of faith and yes, as the closing song said, “Celebrate Good Times”.
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